An Echo

(notes by John McGivering and John Radcliffe)


Its first publication was in Schoolboy Lyrics in Lahore in 1881, in an edition of around fifty arranged by his mother the year before Rudyard’s arrival in the city at the age of sixteen, to work as a journalist. It is listed in ORG as No 18.

It should not be confused with Echoes, the title for the thirty-two Indian poems included with Schoolboy Lyrics in later collections of Early Verse.

Collected in:

  • The Outward Bound Edition vol xvii (1900)
  • Edition de Luxe vol xviii (1900)
  • The Sussex Edition vol xxxv (1939)
  • The Burwash Edition vol xxviii (1941)
  • Early Verse by Rudyard Kipling (1986) Ed. Rutherford
  • Cambridge Edition (2013 Ed. Pinney) p. 1167.

The poem

This is one of the more lyrical Schoolboy Lyrics, in which the young poet is experimenting, successfully and vividly, with a tight formal structure, to offer a metaphor for young love. The poet considers fruit ripening on a sunny wall, sees a ripe one fall off the tree, wonders if it is important and decides that it is not.

As a schoolboy he fell in love with the beautiful Florence Garrard, though his feelings do not seem to have been reciprocated, and dallied with local girls in Appledore, near Westward Ho! Later, as a young journalist he observed the amours and infidelities of his fellow Anglo-Indians with a sardonic eye.


After his unhappy years at Southsea, Kipling was sent to United Services College at Westward Ho! in Devon at the age of twelve, in 1878. It had been recently established to provide education for the sons of army officers.

Because of his poor eyesight he was no good at rugby or cricket, and the Head, Cormell Price, who was a friend of his father, gave him the run of his library, where he read voraciously, including a great deal of poetry, and writing himself, experimenting with styles and language, and themes, in no doubt that he would become a published poet.

And as Andrew Rutherford (Ed.) recounts (p. 3):

… extensions of his literary and emotional experience came during his Christmas visits to the Burne-Jones household at The Grange, North End Road, Fulham, where he was welcomed by his beloved Aunt Georgiana … Further appreciation of the Pre-Raphaelite milieu was to come later, but already Kipling responded to some of the drawings and paintings on which Burne-Jones was engaged, and he sensed the importance attached to art and literature by the whole circle.

Notes on the Text

[Verse 2]

Eve was the wife of Adam, the first man, in the garden of Eden. See the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament.

[Verse 4]

meet in this context ‘suitable, appropriate, apt’.

©John McGivering and John Radcliffe 2017 All rights reserved